The tiny community of Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka‘i is widely known as the site of Hawai‘i’s former leprosy colony. The first leprosy patients were shipped to Kalaupapa in early 1866; seven years later, in 1873, a Catholic missionary priest from Belgium by the name of Father Damien de Veuster arrived and served the island’s patients until his death from the disease in 1889. Another revered servant, Mother Marianne Cope, devoted 29 years on the peninsula as an administrator, nurse and educator.
Father Damien became Saint Damien Oct. 11, 2009, and Saint Marianne followed suit Oct. 21, 2012. They are the only two saints from Hawai‘i, and only the 10th and 11th people, respectively, from the United States to be honored as such by the Catholic Church.
Today, the National Park Service operates KALAUPAPA NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK , and has restored most of the colony’s original buildings and churches. A limited number of visitors are allowed each day to the settlement, but for the first time, PACIFIC HISTORIC PARKS is offering scheduled daily air service from O‘ahu to Kalaupapa. For information tours, go to pacifichistoricparks.org/kalaupapa-national-historical-park.
Note: at press time, tours to Kalaupapa National Historic Park were temporarily closed. Visit the website (above) for updates.